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SMC Golf: SMC shocked by Hope, finishes second at opener

Joseph Monardo | Friday, September 16, 2011

The Belles turned in a solid performance at Trine on Thursday in their first MIAA match of the year, but Saint Mary’s was overshadowed by a surprising performance from Hope College.

The Belles finished second out of nine MIAA teams with a team score of 342, but ended the day 17 strokes back of first-place Hope. Hope finished third in the conference last year with an average of almost 20 strokes per match behind the Belles, but looked like the team to beat in the early season contest.

Senior co-captain Natalie Matuszak said she was surprised at the turn of events.

“I guess they have a pretty good team this year, but they have never really been a big threat to us,” Matuszak said. “We’ve always kind of gone head-to-head with Olivet, but we beat Olivet today so I guess we need to now have our sights set on Hope.”

The last four seasons have ended with Saint Mary’s and Olivet claiming the top two spots in the conference, but after just one match this year, Hope is now a contender.

The Belles need to perform at a higher level to beat Hope, senior co-captain Christine Brown said.

“Actually seeing that Hope played as well as they did, they kind of weren’t on our radar of being a team to beat [before this performance],” senior co-captain Christine Brown said. “We know now that we need to be a little bit better to compete with them.”

Brown earned the low score for the Belles on the day with her round of 80. Although Saint Mary’s fell short of the standard set by Hope for the day, it was still a successful beginning to the conference schedule, Brown said.

“Overall we would like to do better because our ultimate goal is to come in first,” Brown said. “But we left a lot of strokes out there and we are just happy that we know now what we need to work on and improve on so that we can get better and focus on the next couple of weeks.”

Thursday’s match was the first of four conference matches in the regular season before a two-round conference championship. At the end of the six rounds, the cumulative score will determine the MIAA Champion, a title Saint Mary’s held last year.

The second conference match will be held at Hope on Sept. 21. As they prepare for that contest, the Belles will focus on tightening up their play and maintaining confidence on the course.

“It’s kind of just critiquing what we know how to do and not be making those little, minor mistakes that can add up as the round goes on,” Brown said. “We all know that we are great golfers and have it in us. It’s just putting that out and being able to express that [on the course].”

Contact Joseph Monardo at jmonardo@nd.edu